Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lameri, Jun 2, 2011.
1) thank-you card
2) white-sand beach
3) two-hour drive
I'd hyphenate them.
The first two hyphenate. The last, no.
thank you card is hard to read wrong. Nobody is going to accidentally read it as a thank you-card and get confused, so a hyphen is shrugworthy for me on that one.
Though, one might read white sand beach as a white sand-beach, which changes the meaning, so I'd definitely use a hyphen.
And yeah, two hour drive seems perfectly clear to me, without the chance of mistaking it as a two hour-drive, so wouldn't hyphen.
My goal is clarity without adding extra anything, even a hyphen, if not needed.
One I remember quibbling about in a workshop was a red oak door. Maybe I'm just a bit too OCD, but to me if the details mattered enough to add them, then it mattered enough to be sure to clarify if it was a red-oak door or a red oak-door, meaning one made from red oak, or one made from oak and painted red. I know, the little things don't matter, right?
I would hyphenate all three.
The reason I would hyphenate thank-you card is because of the context of the card in question. There are many retailers that sell cards specifically that are "thank-you" cards.
So say if you go in to a store like Hallmark and you want a bundle of nothing but "thank-you" cards, you would buy those that are specifically "thank-you" cards. However, if you go to the store and you browse around and pick up a card that has a funny little saying that has nothing to do with showing gratitude, and you decide to buy it and write your own thank you message on there... then to me, that thank you does not to be hyphenated because the card in question is not specifically a thank you card. I guess this is all a matter of semantics at this point.
You won't go wrong by not hyphenating the thank you, however, if you specifically want to tell the reader that the cards in question are thank-you cards, I would hyphenate. An example of this is a wedding scene where you have the bride fills out thank-you cards for everyone who gave her a wedding present. In that scenario, it would seem appropriate to hyphenate.
I wouldn't hyphenate two hour drive, because if you hyphenate that, what you are telling the reader is that that drive will always be a two hour drive regardless of any unforeseen situations, which to be honest is pretty unrealistic. If that drive is always two hours long then by all means hyphenate, but otherwise, no.
Very interesting responses, thank you very much!!
"Thank-you" is hyphenated if it's one adjective: a thank-you card or letter, for example. But if you tell someone thank you, then it's not hyphenated. You write thank-you cards but you don't write "Thank-you for the present," if that makes sense.
Two-hour is also hyphenated, but white-sand beach is not, unless white-sand is one adjective. If the beach is covered in white sand, you don't write "the kids made sandcastles in the white-sand of the beach."
When the first two words are not a qualifier of the noun that follows, I know a hyphen is not needed. My problem is when they are qualifiers.
Why would you hyphenate "two-hour drive". Sundae's explanation had convinced me, so I'd like to hear your rebuttal.
Because in the phrase "two-hour drive," two-hour is essentially one adjective describing the drive. There's technically two words, but it's just as singular as saying a hot drive, or a long drive, or a rainy drive.
Also, without the hyphen, the meaning of the sentence is not clear. I mean this in a technical/grammatical way, not in a practical way of a reader knowing what you meant. But with the phrase "two hour drive," grammatically that might mean two hour-long drives (i.e. two drives at one hour each), so you need the hyphen to be clear.
Another example is the phrase "small business." You don't use a hyphen with a context like "He runs a small business," because small is an adjective describing the business, but it's not a one-term description. However, in the sentence "The bill affects small-business owners," small-business is one term. Otherwise, if it were written as "The bill affects small business owners," it could mean small people who own businesses, as opposed to people who own small businesses.
Hope I helped!
Thanks for the explanation. Yes, that is the same rule I learned, but with that rule, I don't see why "white-sand beach" wouldn't be hyphenated.
I find more and more people who dislike hyphens and break the rule (of putting a hyphen between two words where those act as an adjective), so I'm trying ways to at least not make it random...
'thank you' does not call for a hyphen and neither does 'white sand'...
'two-hour' does, because it's a time period that counts as one word... so would 'two-hour-long'...
'white sand beach' simply wouldn't be hyphenated, any more than 'blue tile floor' or 'black tar road' would... however, due to the vagaries of the english language, 'blue-tiled' and 'black-tarred' do...
I would call it a "Thank you" card. I mean, it's a card that says "Thank you" after all.
White-sanded beach is correct, but if you're just saying white sand then you don't need a hyphen.
Two hour drive. This does not need a hyphen.
Hyphens are commonly used for compound adjectives, suffixes and prefixes, especially those that end and begin with the same phoneme, such as hell-like. However, they are currently falling out of use- the OED recently removed hyphens from several thousand words and phrases, and you will notice a difference in their usage in American and British English.
As some members have said, as long as it makes sense you are okay. Personally, I wouldn't hyphenate thank-you (most people just make it two words, you can't really be ambiguous there).
A white-sand beach?
A white, sand beach? (Think if the book were about racism)
A white, sand beach?
The hyphen is correct depending on the context, your reader would probably gather that.
What about compound words that include "half"? Example:
"Tom read his bookie, as I called it, half trying to be cute, half jealous of being shared with “anyone.”
there's no good reason for hyphens there, imo...
it's not the same as 'half-dead' for instance, used as an adjective, as in 'the half-dead cat lay panting on the doorstep' vs 'i was half dead with exhaustion'...
Okay, I'm being terrible, but here's a link to the Oxford English Dictionary's page on hyphen use. If any one should know these guys should. I personally found it really difficult to gauge.
You do hyphenate this one.
This one is up to you. The OED states that compound nouns always used to be hyphenated, but it is not so these days and can be written as one word or two, or hyphenated. The important thing is you stick with your decision.
'Two-hour' describes the drive, and it comes before the noun. So hyphenate.
I hope I interpreted this right!
It depends on whether "white" is meant as a description of the beach or of the sand. It happens to amount to the same thing either way, which is why it works with or without the hyphen.
Separate names with a comma.